Criminal Defense Attorney Advises What to Do When Facing Charges of Student Loan Fraud
What Constitutes College Loan Fraud?
Title IV of the Higher Education Act established multiple programs that provide federal student aid. These include both grants and loans. Students apply to receive financial aid through the completion of a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). New York State also offers tuition assistance through the New York State Tuition Assistance Program (TAP), and students may apply for private loans as well as state or federal aid.
In some cases, prosecutors may believe you have submitted a fraudulent FAFSA or TAP application, or that you have otherwise engaged in misleading behavior designed to improperly obtain money from federal, state, or private student loan programs. If prosecutors believe you have engaged in improper behavior, you may be charged with student loan frauds.
Types of School Loan Fraud
There are many different types of school aid fraud that may be considered illegal including:
- Misrepresenting your income on application forms for student aid.
- Using someone else’s identity to obtain student aid.
- Applying for student loans for students who do not exist, do not qualify, or do not intend to attend school and taking the money refunded to the students when the loans exceed tuition costs.
- Manipulating or falsifying test scores to improperly qualify for financial aid.
These types of student loan fraud involve an effort to improperly obtain aid. However, a person could also be accused of perpetrating a student loan fraud scam for making a false claim that aid will be offered and then not providing the promised benefits. Examples of these types of student loans fraud include:
- Student loan forgiveness fraud: Promising students you will help them get forgiveness for their loans, for a fee.
- Advance fee scams that charge students to obtain “loans” at promised low interest
- Offering bogus loan consolidation programs and improperly charging administrative, processing, or consolidation fees.
- Student aid debt elimination fraud: Making false claims that you can get loans discharged in exchange for a fee.
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Whether the alleged fraud occurs against the state or federal government to improperly obtain aid, or whether the alleged student loan scam involves improperly obtaining money from consumers, you can face serious penalties if you are convicted of a fraud offense.
Penalties for Student Aid Fraud
Penalties vary depending upon the particular offense you are charged with. For federal student loan fraud in which an an attempt was made to defraud the government, you could face charges for false claims (18 U.S. Code Section 287), conspiracy to defraud the U.S. (18 U.S. Code Section 371), making false or misleading statements (18 U.S. Code Section 1001), and mail or wire fraud (18 Code Section 1341 and 18 U.S. Code Section 1343).
Making a single false claim can lead to a penalty of up to five years in prison. For multiple false claims, you can be charged for each separate offense. If you used the mail or wire as part of a student loan scam, you could face 20 years incarceration for wire or postal fraud.
Identity theft and bank fraud are also federal felony offenses that you can be charged with if you have improperly used someone’s identifying information to obtain loans or if you have engaged in any scheme that is intended to improperly obtain money from a financial institution. This means that the federal government can process you even if the student loan scam involves private loans.
Attempts to defraud students could not only lead to federal and state fraud and larceny charges, but you could also face prosecution for Internet fraud crimes if you use the Internet to connect with students looking for financial aid relief. Your student loan fraud lawyer can explain the nature of the charges and potential consequences of conviction for all offenses that you have been accused of committing.
How a Student Loan Fraud Lawyer Can Help
A student loan fraud lawyer can provide advice as you respond to state or federal criminal charges. No matter what type of fraudulent acts you have been accused of, you have the right to defend yourself and the right to be considered innocent until a prosecutor has proved guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.